Bruce Gilden remains one of the biggest names in street photography, so it’s always worth learning about his insights on the genre. Not too long ago, he sat down with another esteemed photographer, Martin Parr, and talked about some interesting stuff regarding his beginnings and “fearlessness while photographing people out in the streets.” In the video brought to us by a partnership between Magnum Photos and NOWNESS, Gilden once again talks about shooting around New York City, how his childhood was instrumental to his choice of subjects, and how the right characters are essential to a strong body of work.
The video below is one of the three short films that mark the launch of The Art of Street Photography course by Magnum. Gilden, Susan Meiselas, and Martin Parr are the course instructors, and each of them shared their own insights about their craft for NOWNESS’ Photographer in Focus series. If you’re up for more about Gilden from the master photographer himself, there’s surely something to inspire you in this episode.
“I had to figure out, how do I attack New York City photographically?” Gilden mused on the approach he needed for his own documentation of the city. The answer came in using the flash for his spontaneous and energetic street snaps of people going about their daily life. This technique produced some compelling results. In his own words, the photos revealed his subjects’ thought process: “they’re there, but they’re not there.” It’s like he caught them in the daze of walking around the city while daydreaming.
He also talked about his childhood and how his “Mafia-looking figure” of a father influenced his choice of subjects. He used all the things he observed in his father as criteria for some of the subjects he photographed. He shares more about it in his own video about his Gangster Types and Tough Guys series. All these childhood experiences and his determination to prove what he can do with photography have cemented his creative identity as a street photographer.
If you’re interested in The Art of Street Photography course, Magnum has more details here.
Screenshot image from the video